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26 June 2020

Eden Monaro to feel major climate impacts, but can lead solutions: Candidates forum

EDEN-MONARO will experience worsening droughts, bushfires and heatwaves due to climate change, but can be a national and regional leader in the push towards a safe climate and strong economy, a candidates forum ahead of the upcoming by-election heard on Thursday. 

Organised by Farmers for Climate Action and Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action, the online forum heard from climate and energy experts as well as Kristy McBain, Labor; Cathy Griff, The Greens; and Karen Porter; Independent. 

“In the Eden-Monaro, over 1 million hectares burned last summer. Climate change in Eden-Monaro and South-East NSW will bring more extremely hot days, high fire danger, and sea level rise,” said Professor Lesley Hughes, Distinguished Professor of Biology, Macquarie University and Climate Councillor. 

“We are going to miss the Paris target of keeping temperatures below 1.5°C and will likely overshoot the 2°C target too. We will have to work very hard to avoid that,” said Prof Hughes.

John Grimes, CEO, Smart Energy Council, added: “A strong economy and safe climate are absolutely compatible. We have solutions that can save money and address climate change. The costs of solar panels and battery systems have declined rapidly in the past decade.”

“We need a vision and leadership – someone to advocate for solar and storage on every emergency services shed, school, nursing home and hospital in the electorate. We have the technology, it’s going to save money. The only thing we lack is political will,” said Mr Grimes. 

Candidates laid out their vision for renewable energy and climate action in the electorate.

Labor candidate Kristy McBain said: “We have a leader who is prepared to be bipartisan on climate policy. I’ve committed $1 million under a future Labor government for a micro-energy hub, additional solar panels on private houses, or community buildings.”

Greens candidate Cathy Griff said: “The first step must be phasing out coal exports and reaching 100% renewable electricity by 2030.” Greens policy proposals included a nationalised electricity retailer; a Solar for All fund, restoring a national carbon price, and ending political donations by mining firms. 

Independent candidate Karen Porter said: “I don’t want us to see us neglect the science on climate any longer. I would like to see towns becoming more reliable and self-sufficient, and to see Bredbo become a prototype with a community solar-sharing microhub and battery storage system.”  

Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action president Jo Dodds said: “It is heartening to know that these three candidates understand the impacts of climate-fuelled bushfires on our communities. They must stand up to the coal and gas industries and put the safety of our communities, environment and local economies above all else.”

Jindabyne farmer Jo Oddie, forum co-organiser and Farmers for Climate Action member, said: “We thank the candidates for taking this issue seriously and recognising the economic benefits that renewables and storage create in Eden-Monaro. As Federal candidates, it is essential to turn this local knowledge into systemic change at a Federal policy level.”

View the Candidates Forum online here . For interviews, contact Vai – 0452 290 082 / [email protected]

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